Digital Assets in 2021: A Year in Review

An Interview with Dr. Zou Chuanwei

Chief Economist at HashKey Group and Wanxiang Blockchain

Section 1: Application

2021 saw the widespread adoption of blockchain technology in the financial, entertainment and social sectors, coupled with huge growths in user base and transaction volume in other sub-markets. Blockchain technology also finds itself playing an indispensable role in bringing the Metaverse blueprint to life. In this research paper, we summarise the significant milestones blockchain technology in 2021 in the financial industry as well as the cultural and social fields.

Section 2: Technology

Blockchain interoperability has seen some massive breakthroughs in 2021, and as DeFi applications become more mature, it’s not surprising that cross-chain bridge projects have grown at an unprecedented rate. However, scalability and the congestion of blockchain transactions remain two pressing technical issues that need addressing. Protocols such as Ethereum, Polkadot and Dfinity have made significant progress in 2021, such as modifying the way they charge fees, auctioning off parachain slots, and launching their mainnet. This research paper breaks down some of the technical highlights and achievements of 2021, including the Lightning Network, Layer 2 solutions on Ethereum, cross-chain bridges, Ethereum’s London upgrade, the Polkadot Slot Auctions, and the launch of the Dfinity Mainnet.

Section 3: Regulation

Whether as a technology or a mere ideology, blockchain has revolutionised the way how information can be distributed and how companies can do business. However, for blockchain to better serve the sustainable development of society and foster a stable and healthy market environment, proper guidance and management by regulators is necessary. In 2021, the two aspects of regulation that had a big influence on the blockchain development were data security and the regulation of crypto assets. This paper revisits these specific laws and regulations and what they mean for the future of blockchain.

About Dr. Zou Chuanwei

Dr. David Zou Chuanwei is the Chief Economist at HashKey Group and Wanxiang Blockchain. Between 2006 and 2019, Dr. Zou held various positions in China Investment Corporation (CIC) and Nanhu Finance Corporation. In 2015, he was a winner of the 1st Sun Yefang Prize for Financial Innovation (China’s top prize for economists) and the 5th China Soft Science Prize for his research on FinTech. In 2013, 2014, 2017 and 2021, Dr. Zou’s books were listed as the “financial books of the year” by the China Business Network. In 2019, he was named one of the “top 10 institutional economists of the year” by China Business Network. He has a Ph.D. in Economics from Tsinghua University, a Mid-Career MPA from Harvard University, an M.A. in Economics and B.S. in Statistics from Peking University.

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